Nolan Schanuel has made it apparent why the Los Angeles Angels chose to rush him through the Minor Leagues and start him in the leadoff spot of their big league lineup less than two months after drafting him. He has reached base safely in all 22 of his MLB games, the sixth-longest of such streaks since 1961 and 11th-longest since the start of the 20th century.
He has an on-base percentage of .412 in 102 plate appearances, matching Shohei Ohtani’s OBP that ranks third in MLB among qualified players. Only National League MVP candidates Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman have reached base at a higher clip among qualified players.
If there has been anything to criticize from the rookie, it could be a lack of power. His slugging percentage sits at .353, significantly below the MLB average of .415 in this category. Three of his 25 hits are for extra bases, with two doubles and one home run.
Schanuel may at some point benefit from adding power to his game, but he and the Angels aren’t forcing the issue just yet, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I’m just trying to fill the role of being a leadoff guy and just trying to get on base for the big guys behind me,” Schanuel said. “If they want me to [go for more power] in the future, I’ll work toward that. But as of right now, it’s getting on base.”
Reaching base 42 times in 102 plate appearances is undoubtedly a marker of success for a leadoff batter. But the Angels couldn’t help but give their young leadoff man a hard time when it took him until his 94th PA to collect his first big fly.
“We were all super excited for Nolan and we’ve all been teasing him,” (Tyler) Anderson said. “He’s a really good hitter. Just great zone awareness. But we like to make fun of him and say I homered before you in a fewer number of at-bats.”
The Angels have an eye on the future as they wind down the final weeks of the season. And Schanuel’s immediate impact will remain a story as the Halos build out their 2024 roster. And it may not be long before the rookie cements an even greater place in history if he continues to find himself standing on first base.
Zach Neto and Logan O’Hoppe becoming clubhouse leaders
Joining Schanuel as potential cornerstones for the Angels future are catcher Logan O’Hoppe and shortstop Zach Neto. Both have already made waves in the Angels clubhouse for their leadership potential. Especially O’Hoppe, who received praise from Phil Nevin and Mike Moustakas for his poise at such a young age.